On September 15, 2013, the tight knit community of Maryville, TN came together to honor the lives and memory of Jeff Trussell and Courteney Kaliszewski at the Hold on Be Strong 5K. Last year, Jeff and Courteney tragically lost their lives in a collision in their church's van. They, along with several other members of the Cedar Grove Baptist Church, were returning from a church youth retreat in Gatlinburg when their church's van was struck. Several other members were also injured in the crash.
One year after the crash, Mike Jones, Kim Trussell, wife of Jeff Trussell, and a few other community members decided to hold a 5K to celebrate, remember, and honor Jeff and Courteney's lives. The organizers had planned to have around 200 people show up for the race. However, local businesses, members of the media and hundreds of people were so touched by this story that an amazing 586 people registered for the race and got behind the cause. The race, which raised funds for the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department, brought in an incredible, staggering, $12,000 for the department!
Kim Trussell shared her thoughts with us on the outpouring of support received by the community: The efforts to create a 5k in Jeff and Courteney's honor turned out to be so much more than just a race, but a mini-revival in a lot of ways. We are so grateful to our church family, our neighbors, many local businesses, and the race community for supporting our endeavor to honor two of the sweetest souls we have ever known and curse the darkness a little by doing something good for somebody else. Our everyday heroes at the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department will use the twelve thousand dollars to keep taking care of all the families and folks they call on every day.
What a way to honor Jeff and Courteney by helping bring a community together to heal and to stay strong. We appreciate being a part of your race and congratulate you on such an amazing event.
Check race results here.